Heaven’s Gate was co-founded in the 1970s by Marshall Applewhite, a music teacher and Bonnie Nettles, a nurse. This 20th century cult believed that the human body was no more than a “container” which would carry a body to Heaven mixing beliefs of Science and the Bible. How this would happen would be by an extraction from the heavenly father. Heaven’s Gate determined this by a world event so rare, a comet. When the passing of the Comet occurred , it would cause their vessels to be taken to heaven.
Heaven’s Gate was gaining many new members in the early 70’s, but after the first comet passed, and the members and co-founders didn’t find themselves in Heaven, both Nettles and Applewhite lost the majority of their members.
In 1986, Bonnie Nettles passed away from Cancer. In the 1990’s, Marshall Applegate still believed that when the next rare comet passed around the earth’s orbit, he and his followers would go to Heaven. Applewhite began recruiting new members to his belief system. As their bodies meant nothing to them, as well as planet earth, new members Marshall Applegate recruited, waited for the next rare comet to pass, believing when this happened their bodies would be transported to Heaven.
Applegate had close to 50 followers at this time and relocated to Rancho Santa Fe, just outside San Diego, California. He continued the brainwashing process siting that when the comet, “Hale Bop” came to pass, their bodies would then be transported to heaven. He rented a large home where each member lived. These Cult members believed that as this comet came to pass, they would be transported to Heaven from Earth as Earth would disintegrated. The cult members and Applegate made money to pay for the large home by running a company that did “computer services and web design.
A leader of a Cult has so much power over his or her followers because they truly believe in the doctrine they’ve created. On March 21st, 1996, 41 of the members went to a restaurant ordering the same meal. The comet was due to pass around the earth’s orbit the following day. Part of the male members were so committed prior to this, they had themselves castrated including Applewhite. Part of the doctrine was a strong belief that sexual relations were a distraction for their “containers” or bodies which would be the easiest way to deal with any desire the men may have. in late March, Police, following an anonymous tip, paid a visit to the home just outside San Diego. They were shocked to find 21 women and 18 men resting peacefully on cots. They were all dead.
After discovering this horrific scene, Police noticed the men and women were all dressed in matching black clothing and black tennis shoes. They later discovered each member deliberately drank a lethal mixture of Vodka and phenobarbital so they, (their containers or body) would die and be transported by an extraterrestrial vessel or spacecraft to heaven where they would be reborn. The “heaven gates cult” as part of its doctrine. This tragedy occured the day the comet was predicted to pass.
The questions I have are how and what and why others would follow such a doctrine and give up their life believing they supporting would be transported to heaven. How does something this tragic happen? Part 4 of this segment will reveal the largest cult in US history. Part 5 of this series will explore the questions we all must have. I would like to hear from all of you. Why do these cult leader’s possess such power over their followers? Who would die for a doctrine created such as this? Beneath this article, you will notice an area where you can “Join the Discussion”. I want to know how you feel or think some individuals have this kind of magnetic appeal over others. Why do things like this happen? Part 5 will discuss these questions.
Thank you for reading today. I realize I am straying from my typical format, but I think it is very important we all have some understanding about cults. Often, people don’t even realize they are in one.
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